By State Representative, Leon D. Young
A boondoggle is a project that is considered a waste of both time and money, yet is often continued due to extraneous policy or political motivations. This definition, for all intents and purposes, aptly describes the state’s willingness to sign-off on the Foxconn mega giveaway.
It’s no secret that Scott Walker perceives this agreement as his “get on of jail” ticket, in terms of being reelected to a third term. Hence, he is more than willing to dance with the proverbial devil, to shore up his dismal job creation record over the last seven years.
Equally concerning is the fact that Assembly Republicans also share that same view and are ready to concede major concessions to this Taiwan-based electronics conglomerate, in the desperate hopes that Foxconn will make good on its rosy projection to deliver 13,000 jobs. But, like most things in life (with the possible exceptions of death and taxes), there are no real guarantees that the state will ultimately recoup its sizeable investment.
It might look hypocritical to some that only three Assembly Democrats voted in favor of this legislation. After all, Democrats have been railing on Walker and the Republican-controlled Legislature for several sessions for their inability to create good, familysupporting jobs. With that being the case, how could Democrats basically abandon their mantra, and thumb their nose at this possible job creation endeavor?
The answer is simple: The Foxconn legislation, as currently written, is a bad deal — and there is a myriad of reasons why:
• $3 billion in state subsidies is simply too much and would syphon essential funding away from vital state expenditures like education, healthcare and roads/ infrastructure;
• It would take 25 years for state taxpayers to recuperate this investment and this represents the best-case scenario;
• The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. (WEDC), the state entity that would have direct oversight authority in facilitating the agreement, has a dismal track record in its own right and has literally cost the taxpayers of this state millions, due to blatant malfeasance;
• No worker protections, such as: freedom to organize and join a union; create jobs that pay a family-supporting wage ($15/hr.); jobs that provide affordable health insurance and retirement security for workers at the very least; and steps must be taken to ensure workplace safety;
• There is an array of environmental challenges, ranging from disposal of chemical wastes to the devastating impact a plant that size will have on the surrounding watershed environment;
• To make matters worse, the initial economic impact projections that paint such a rosy picture of the deal were provided by a financial firm that Foxconn hired. So, how objective are those numbers?
One last point, the Foxconn deal has been rushed through the legislative process, while Democrats are summarily denied the opportunity to amend the bill, in hopes of improving a very bad proposal. The Republican- majority has failed miserably in providing adequate state funding for education, healthcare and roads. And, we still haven’t passed the state budget.
Forget what you have been led to believe, the Foxconn deal in NOT economic development. In truth, it’s nothing more than CORPORATE WELFARE and a boondoggle in the making.